A tough financial year on the farm

Mummy swan keeps a keen eye on her five cygnets as they go for a swim at Loughrea Lake. PHOTO: HANY MARZOUK.
Mummy swan keeps a keen eye on her five cygnets as they go for a swim at Loughrea Lake. PHOTO: HANY MARZOUK.

WEST of Ireland farmers – and especially those in the lower income beef and sheep categories – have been advised to try ‘and leave nothing behind’ in terms of any direct payments that can be drawn down.

Galway IFA Chairman, Pat Murphy, said that after the recent Teagasc Farm Survey figures revealed 2016 to be a very bad year for farm incomes, it was absolutely crucial for farmers get every payment that was going.

“2016 was a pretty tough year for all farming sectors. Milk prices continued to fall; the factories put the pressure on beef prices and sheep took a hit at the end of the year.

“On top of all that the tillage farmers and especially the grain growers also had a very tough year.

“Many grain growers ended up losing their crops due to the wet September we had,” said Pat Murphy.

According to the National Farm Survey, dairying continues by a long way, to being the most financially viable sector in farming, delivering an average annual income in 2016 of just over €51,800 – a reduction of 17% on the previous year.

With a milk price fall of 10% in 2016, dairy farmers – despite increasing both production and efficiency – were unable to maintain their incomes, said Teagasc economist, Trevor Donnellan.

Increases in direct payments through the GLAS and Beef Data Genomics Programme helped Irish beef farmers increase their profits by 2% to 4%   but this was a very low-income level.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.